ANCIENT INDIANA METROPOLIS
A thousand years ago, Evansville was home to a thriving community of Mississippian Indians on the banks of the Ohio River. Archaeologists are uncovering the mysteries of these past inhabitants by combing over artifacts they left behind.
About Angel Mounds
Located on the banks of the Ohio River in southwest Indiana, Angel Mounds State Historic Site is one of the best-preserved pre-contact Native American sites in North America. Built between A.D. 1050 and 1400, the town was occupied by 1,000 plus Mississippians. The society built 11 earthen mounds as platforms to elevate important buildings. The original town covered an area of 103 acres and served as an important religious, political and trade center for people living within a 75-mile radius.
The site was abandoned before European explorers came to North America. Possible explanations for abandonment are depletion of natural resources, climatic changes or the collapse of the chiefdom.
More than 600 acres comprise Angel Mounds State Historic Site. The site includes an interpretive center, recreations of the Mississippian buildings and a working reconstruction of the 1939 WPA archaeology laboratory. The 500-acre non-archaeological portion of the site contains a nature preserve with hiking and biking trails.
Mississippian culture was innovative and the first to extensively exploit agriculture and build permanent communities with thousands of residents. This economic and social system was made possible by the widespread cultivation of corn, which was nutritious and could be stored in large quantities. The town here lends its name to the Angel phase of Mississippian culture, found near the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio Rivers from the late 11th through the early 15th centuries.
After more than 300 years of constant occupation, the town was abandoned. By 1450, the site was empty, and no one knows for sure why the inhabitants left. The local supply of wood and game would have been depleted. Intense agriculture might have overworked the soil. There is no indication of attack from outside, but there may have been internal political upheavals. The reasons they left are questions archaeologists continue to research. The Mississippians dispersed but continued in the Ohio River valley through the early 1600s. These later Mississippians were also gone before the arrival of Europeans in Indiana.
Archaeology at Angel Mounds and
the WPA Archaeology Laboratory
In historic times, the site was a working farm of the Angel family. In 1938, with a donation from Mr. Eli Lilly, the Indiana Historical Society purchased the land to protect it from development. Starting in 1939, under the direction of Glenn A. Black, a crew of 277 Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers began excavating the site, recovering over 2.5 million artifacts.
The site was transferred to the State of Indiana in 1946, with Indiana University continuing the archaeological work. A replica of the original WPA building was built on the site in early 2013. The building contains exhibits on the WPA and its contribution to the site’s research. The new lab facility is open during all site excavations and during special events.
Indiana University/Glenn A. Black Lab is responsible for excavations and research on the site.
Angel Mounds is open year-round!
Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m.
Closed on Mondays except Memorial Day, May 26 and Labor Day, September 1.
Purchase admission tickets in the Angel Mounds Interpretive Center.
|Children under 3||FREE|
Indiana State Museum members and members of other State Historic Sites Friends Groups get FREE admission and a 10 percent discount in the gift shop!
*Child: ages 3 through 12
*Senior: age 60 and older
Group/School Tours: Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more and for school groups. Call 812.853.3956 to schedule your group.
DIRECTIONS AND PARKING
Where to park
Parking is available at the Angel Mounds Interpretive Center.
Angel Mounds State Historic Site
8215 Pollack Ave.
EDUCATION EVENTS & STANDARDS
AT ANGEL MOUNDS
A thousand years ago, Evansville was home to a thriving community of Mississippian Indians on the banks of the Ohio River. Each year, archaeologists come closer to uncovering the mysteries of these past inhabitants by combing over artifacts they left behind. Your students will make very personal connections with this prehistoric Native American culture and the natural landscape.
Academic topics covered:
- Prehistoric Native American culture (Mississippian ca. 1000 — 1400 A.D.)
- Star lore
Grades 3 – 12
Take a walk in Mississippian footsteps on this guided tour of the ancient village site.
Grades PreK – 12
Birds, Berries, Beavers & Bark
Discover how the “bare necessities” gave Mississippians the means to not only survive but thrive.